|Date||20 June 2017|
|Venue||KES Five Ways, Bartley Green, B32 4BT|
|Result||L 2 - 6|
This week, Old Wulfs travelled to Halesowen to play Old Hales’ summer league team, Halesowen Warriors. It was a much changed team again, with a fair few players unavailable, but this presented the opportunity to hand out some more debuts in this year’s league, with Ed Hole and Sahib Duhra duly stepping in.
This game was always going to be a difficult fixture, with Hales already registering some healthy wins and scoring a lot of goals. And it looked as though they had fielded a team mostly made up of first and second team players. We were definitely up against it.
The game started, on another very hot evening, with the home side keeping the ball and looking to build patiently from the back. This meant some tiresome work was needed from Wulfs, making sure men were marked without being led out of position. However, this fit and well-drilled Hales side did manage to pass the ball around well enough to create spaces for themselves high up the field. On a few occasions, the Old Wulfs centre midfielders found themselves stranded in their attacking half, allowing Hales time and space to move forward.
Even though the Wulfs defence was beginning to look overrun, the held resolutely with some nicely timed blocks and interceptions. Added to this, Luke Archer, making his second appearance in this year’s summer league, looked to be in the same form that earned him man of the match on his last outing. He frustrated Hales with a series of sublime reaction saves, as well as smothering the ball quickly when it was at his feet.
The pressure soon told though. A run down the right and a ball crossed in, resulted in a relatively easy finish for a Hales striker after all that defensive hard work. But Wulfs were still in the game. All of the home side’s attacking overloads meant that there was space to be exploited on the counter. After Ashworth was fouled when driving into the D, a penalty corner was awarded. From this, Birch struck a shot against the right post which rebounded to the advancing Callum Nightingale. He controlled the ball and even though was facing away from goal, found the composure to swivel and finish neatly past the cordon of defenders. The first half ended a respectable 1-1.
The second half begun with Hales continuing their emphasis on attack. This time they managed to get an early goal to put themselves into the lead after another quick overload. However, as in the first half there was space for Old Wulfs to exploit when they were able to turn the ball over. A long run out of defence from Tibble allowed him to pass the ball to Ashworth on the right side of the D. He then drove towards the by line and pulled an underarm cross back toward the top of the area where it fell nicely for Ed Hole who had acres of time and space to set himself and unleash a powerful hit high into the net. 2-2.
From there, although Wulfs were not overawed – keeping the score at 2-2 for some time, Hales fitness and quality eventually began to take its toll, especially in the stifling conditions. The home side managed to score another four goals in the last twenty minutes.
Even though the score line tells the story of a convincing win, Wulfs certainly held their own against a very good side, and played some of their best hockey yet this summer.
Final Score: 6-4
Man of the Match: Luke Archer